Seven people who were injured after a minibus taxi caught fire following a collision with an SUV on the N1 near Mookgopong in Limpopo, have been discharged from the Modimolle hospital. Preliminary investigations revealed that the vehicle had a tyre burst which caused it to veer into the oncoming traffic, colliding with the minibus taxi.

17 people have so far been confirmed dead. Taxi association SANTACO says it is in the process of communicating with family members whose contact numbers were on a list compiled before the minibus taxi departed from Pretoria for Polokwane.

Rescue workers battled overnight to remove victims who were trapped in the vehicle. Traffic officials say the passengers left Pretoria’s Bosman Street station in one taxi. But along the way, they boarded another taxi. This taxi was heading to Tzaneen when it was involved in the crash.

The South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO) in Limpopo says the minibus which was transporting the passengers belongs to their association.

SANTACO’s spokesperson Sipho Maloma says they have managed to contact some family members of those who died. Maloma says the other affected families are still searching for their loved ones at hospitals.

“The vehicle that was carrying the people is one of our vehicles the passengers were from Bosman in Pretoria and along the road they were taken to our taxi, we call it Ipela, or Tshollela in the taxi, we were locating the family members, we managed to locate a number of family members. Some are still searching for their family members their loved ones at the hospital,” says Sipho Maloma.

Traffic authorities say they have managed to retrieve the list containing the names of the deceased. Spokesperson Mike Maringa says two of the injured are still in hospital.

“We are now in possession of the list of passengers who were in a horrific accident on the N1 yesterday and we are awaiting the finalisation of the investigation and notification of their next of kin before a visit to the affected families. We have also established that the bus was travelling from Pretoria to Polokwane at the time of the accident, there are two people who are still admitted at the local Modimolle Hospital and the rest have been checked and released,” says Mike Maringa.

The deceased have not yet been identified. Police say they will have to conduct DNA tests to identify the deceased passengers and the mini-bus driver.

VIDEO: Road Safety – Death toll in Limpopo accident rises to 17